Virtual reality reduces anxiety associated with public speaking

Study conducted by University of Nottingham Trent

On students with fear of public speaking

The study was ran on 32 participants, students that are highly anxious when it comes to public speaking.

The aim of the study was to test the predictors of public speaking anxiety. To do so a public speaking virtual reality application was developed where the participants were immersed.

There were 2 exposure sessions of 20 minutes each and one follow up 1 month later on.

As the participant progressed through their journey they could increase their own levels of stress. The experience had 3 levels of difficulty on 5 different parameters:

  • Audience size
  • Audience reaction
  • Speech prompts
  • Salience of self
  • Distance to audience

There were two hypotheses of the study:

1) was that repeated exposures to something you fear will desensitise the participants, decrease their anxiety and avoidance

2) was that their levels of anxiety will have sustained effects at follow up.

Both hypotheses held true.

Analysis

Relative to the baseline, the anxiety levels after each session decreased with participants feeling more confident to increase the levels of stress themselves.

Prior, during and after the exposures in virtual reality the heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin response (GSR) were measured.

Tests that measure the anxiety before and after the exposure were also conducted.

A positive result

Relative to the baseline, the anxiety levels after each session decreased with participants feeling more confident to increase the levels of stress themselves.

You can read more about the study here.